Is the Latino culture finally being recognized as an integral part of the American culture? If not fully, then I am glad to say that we are surely making great strides.
The Associated Press reported that Jennifer Lopez will pay a tribute to the late Celia Cruz at this year’s American Music Awards. This homage to one of the greatest singers in salsa and in Latin music will take place in an American event televised on an American television network. This of course is huge news for the Latino public, but as exciting as it might be, there are bound to be some skeptics who perhaps think that JLo might not do La Guarachera justice with her performance that night.
Yes, Lopez is an incredibly talented artist who has managed to successfully rise to fame in music and film, but Celia had a discography spanning over 60 years and a talent comparable to few. Nonetheless, let’s remember that is an American event and in this case JLo – a young Latin recording artist widely recognized by U.S. audiences – serves as the perfect liaison to present the Cuban legend to a new crowd.
To make sure the show and tribute are a guaranteed bang Lopez needs to cover hits representative of the different phases in Cruz’s career. From the very beginning of the Cuban singer’s career to the end, here are the three songs JLo needs to sing.
1.”El Yerberito Moderno” (1955) – With La Sonora Matancera
Celia Cruz got her musical break in the 1950s when she was called in to fill as the lead singer for the renowned Cuban band La Sonora Matancera for which she sang for 15 years. Till this day “El Yerberito” remains one of the group’s most beloved songs, which has not only been passed down to younger generations but has travelled all over Latin America.
2. “Quimbara” (1974) – With Fania All-Stars
If there had to be one song to represent the essence of Celia Cruz it would be “Quimbara.” In 1974 the Cuban singer joined one of the most elite groups in Salsa, Fania All-Stars, an ensemble of the best musicians in orchestras signed by the Fania label. The song, collaboration between her and Johnny Pacheco, is from “Celia y Johnny” her first full-length album with the group. Upon its release “Qimbara” became a huge hit and set the singer’s career ablaze.
3. “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” (2003) – Solo Act
At the age of 77 Celia was not quitting and came out with the uplifting hit “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.” That year it played non-stop in all the Latin stations and won the artist a Premio lo Nuestro for Tropical Song of the Year. In the inspiring song the Cuban Guarachera, who had been undergoing cancer treatments at the time, sent us the message that life is never as bad as it seems, in fact it is actually a party so live it up!
In the comments below share your thoughts on JLo’s upcoming tribute to Celia Cruz and our song picks for the Puerto Rican singer.